I remember how pleased I was to read, in My Weekly Reader, in 1957, that

Prince Charles was born in 1948.

He was my age!

By Library and Archives Canada, e010949328 / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, e010949328 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/lac-bac/7195940876/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27933715

Prince Charles with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, and Princess Anne in 1957. By Library and Archives Canada, e010949328 / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, e010949328 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/lac-bac/7195940876/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27933715

I would later learn that Al Gore, James Taylor, Kathy Bates, Stevie Nicks, Samuel L. Jackson,

Alice Cooper, and Andrew Lloyd Weber, all share the same birth year, which means. . . .

All of them, if they are lucky, will turn seventy this year.

So will the quartet below.

L-R: Shirley, Gloria, Tina, Mary. One of us is already 70. Can you guess which one?

In the U.S. there are currently 2, 784,211 people who were born in 1948.

(If you want to see how many are your age, check out this interesting website.)

How different will 70 be from all other milestone birthdays?

I don’t know yet, but I plan to take time to reflect on this question,

and I hope my friends will offer their own thoughts below as I prepare.

In a few days, I will welcome my three closest college friends (pictured above) to Pittsburgh.

We are going to celebrate our 70th birthday year together while exploring the city.

Lydia will make sure we laugh often.


We will have a total of 48 hours spread across three days to enjoy each other and the city.

I am compiling a list of must-do activities and a much longer list of fun-if-it-works-out places.

Friends have already contributed to such a list in a previous post.

Stuart and I have used your suggestions for special excursions, but

now that we are facing our last two months in this city (!),

we want to be even more selective, making sure we don’t overlook something special.

So, we need your wisdom.

What advice do you have for people turning 70 this year?

And what Pittsburgh places shall we be sure to explore?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Laurie Buchanan on April 2, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Shirley — The photo of you, Gloria, Tina, and Mary is a wonderful testament to long-term friendship. And even if I hadn’t seen Lydia’s face, her foot-action alone tells me that she’s one happy camper!

    “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!'”
    —Attributed to Bill McKenna, Anonymous, and a Nissan ad

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Laurie, you pick up on the details every time. Such an observant person. One of Lydia’s most endearing habits, in addition to her ecstatic squeals and bubbly laughter, is her active right foot. If she is shaking it like she’s doing the hokey pokey, she is especially happy.

      Love the quote. That’s another one of your talents. You are a magnet for good ones.

      Thanks for starting the conversation here today.

  2. Melanie Springer Mock on April 2, 2018 at 11:52 am

    How lucky you are to have such great life-long friends. I’m sure your weekend in Pittsburgh will be wonderful. My favorite spot in Pittsburgh was the giant cemetery near where I lived. (I can’t remember its name, but Annie Dillard writes about it in her memoir.) I know that might be a macabre destination for a milestone birthday, but I loved walking through that beautiful space, looking at the amazing crypts built by the city’s wealthy members, and thinking about the stories of the people buried there. A lot of history, joy and sadness written on the gravestones.

    And, okay, if that is *too* macabre, the bagels on Squirrel Hill are amazing, too. Maybe a tour of the church and/or TV station where Fred Rogers practiced his ministry?

    I’m also coming up on a milestone birthday, at 50, which feels really daunting. I’ve been trying to think of this as my Jubilee Year, and have had some fairly significant things happen for me this year in terms of goal-reaching, but/and I hope to celebrate my birthday with family, and then a weekend away with my friends as well.

    Happy 70th! I hope you have a wonderful celebration.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Melanie, I’m so happy to wish you a great Jubilee Year. I highly recommend this book: https://www.amazon.com/Jubilee-Time-Celebrating-Spirit-Advent-ebook/dp/B00329UWF4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522685486&sr=8-2&keywords=jubilee+book+spirituality+age.

      Your Pittsburgh suggestions are promising. I’ll do a little research and see where Mr. Rogers might best be re-visited. Alas, the handmade bagels you remember in Squirrel Hill seem to have given way to chain bagel bakeries. At least, I have not been able to locate the bakery. I just googled this explanation. Boo hoo: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/food/2008/01/01/A-kosher-bakery-sells-its-last-bagel/stories/200801010098

      The graveyard Annie Dillard writes about was probably the Homewood, where Henry Clay Frick is buried (he of Mennonite ancestry, large philanthropy, and cruel anti-union actions). I haven’t been there yet, since the Allegheny Cemetery, also beautiful and huge, is closer. Thanks for the reminder, however. Stuart and I need to go walking in Homewood before we leave.

      We are a generation apart, but sisters.

      • Melanie Springer Mock on April 3, 2018 at 12:46 pm

        Frick! That’s the name of it. I highly recommend. If you go walking in Homewood, check out the big old house at the corner of Thomas street and Homewood (I think that was the cross street!). That’s where the MVS house was, in an old funeral home. The Mennonite church also met there, in the old funeral chapel. (The laundry room was by the embalming room, in the basement, making laundry at night even more of a thrill!)

        I feel honored that you would consider me a sister. So wish we would have had the opportunity to work together in an English department, or with you as my boss.

        Best wishes in your last stretch in Pittsburgh!

        • Shirley Showalter on April 3, 2018 at 3:52 pm

          I think some members of PMC might still be living in that house. I need to check that out. Embalming room! What a great place to read a ghost story. 🙂

          I feel certain we would have enjoyed working together in the past and am grateful we have ways like this to connect now. BTW, congrats on your book launch TODAY!

  3. Janet Givens on April 2, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Congratulations and a joyous Happy Birthday to you and your friends, Shirley. As you know I too am a ‘48er and this yesr, I’ve been starting my mornings off with May Sarton’s At Seventy. She ponders most effectively. Having purpose, knowing I can still make a difference, believing others depend on me … they all come together to keep me young. My mantra? It’s just a number.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Janet, I love your mantra. And thanks so much for reminding me of the May Sarton book. I know I read it, probably in my forties. I’m due for a second reading. Putting it on my library list right now. And happy seventieth to you, also!

  4. Lisa Enqvist on April 2, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks, Shirley, for your inspiring words. Sorry, I can’t give you any tips on ideas for Pittsburg!
    I passed my 70th milestone three years ago, joining my four siblings in the 70+ age group. (We are all born within six years.) The oldest arrived just before WWII broke out. I came when the war (in Europe) was over, soon after Hitler died.
    I too loved seeing pictures of Prince Charles and Princess Anne as I grew up. Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Day was announced on board the passenger liner as we were traveling home to Finland via London soon after my eighth birthday.
    Birthdays, celebrated or not, have been milestones helping me remember where I was at which age.
    For both my 50th and 70th birthdays I received funds to travel to my childhood home country, Sri Lanka and reconnect with friends there.
    Since the latest trip, I have reconnected with even more friends from there but who now live around the globe.
    The best gift was the rediscovery of one friend who I thought I would never find again. We were three inseparable girls and close neighbors in 1956, aged ten, eleven, and twelve. Two years later we all moved apart and lost touch.
    Miraculously I found the oldest 25 years ago. She discovered our younger friend through the Internet last spring. Now we communicate regularly and hope to meet together somewhere next year!
    Summing it up, friendship, as in your picture, is the best way to celebrate both birthdays and memories.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 6:19 pm

      Lisa, you have so many layers of experience in your 70+ years of living. I’m so glad you were able to reconnect with both your closest friends of long ago. I read once that we value our siblings more as we age because they have known us in all our stages of life. The same holds true for childhood friends.

      I agree that celebrating with friends is a rare and special privilege. We salute you across the globe and salute Prince Charles too while we are at it!

  5. susan scott on April 2, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I too was born in 1948 Shirley! My husband as well … a few days before me. It’s funny how it suddenly arrives. Quite a few of my friends make this milestone this year.

    I can’t make any suggestions about Pittsburgh except to paint the town RED. But how wonderful to have those special friends with you. And little Lydia who will add to the fun in spades!

    We are planning a trip to Europe in June … I’ll be waking up in Paris on my 70th tho horreurs abissement – we have to be collected at the place where we will have stayed for a few nights at some ungodly hour in the morning to get off to Charles de Gaulle airport for the next leg … not fair say I. I should have tea coffee champagne croissants pastries delivered to my bedroom at a civilised hour and spend the day languishing in my lingerie ..

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      Our club is huge and global, Susan! Thanks for the reminder.

      We will find a way to paint the town. We always have fun when we gather, and this year, we have a great excuse for having a special dallop.

      You gave me an idea for a cake with this comment. Thank you!

      I envy you your Paris destination on your birthday, but not the hours. I do love this description, however: “I should have tea coffee champagne croissants pastries delivered to my bedroom at a civilised hour and spend the day languishing in my lingerie ..”

      I happen to be languishing in my lingerie as I write this. 🙂 Happy birthday!

  6. Marian Beaman on April 2, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    You probably don’t need much of an agenda to celebrate your 70th with three longtime friends. They must seem like sisters to you.

    For those who will read the comments, I’ll suggest an appropriate gift, one of Judith Viorst’s “Decades” book of verse: I”m Too Young To Be Seventy and Other Delusions. Her earlier book, Suddenly Sixty is still in my library, and I may receive Unepectedly Eighty in a few years. Incidentally, I clicked on the “interesting website” and found 63% of those in my birth year are still alive, good odds, I’d say.

    We didn’t do anything exotic for my 70th birthday. And I didn’t expect much since the family had a big blow-out for me when I retired from teaching three years earlier. Still, when I entered my daughter’s house the foyer was filled with dozens of pink and purple balloons and a huge card Cliff
    fashioned from a photograph for guests to sign. (Hints to Kate, Stuart, and . . . ! )

    It is wise of you, Shirley, to steer your party plans in a good direction, but you don’t need to engineer the whole thing. Let others do the work. After all, you will soon tread on the first rung of the “seventies” ladder.

    And you don’t need any more advice from me, enjoying jubilacion as you do, now with Lydia in tow. How blessed you are!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      These friends do seem like sisters, Marian, and your comment reminds me that my actual sisters are coming to Pittsburgh also. They come next month, the month my sister Doris turns 60. We always hit the milestones together. And, fingers crossed, my mother will come with them. So I hope we have lovely weather and a great time together then also.

      I think I have the Judith Viorst books — back in Harrisonburg. 🙂

      I don’t want a big blowout for my actual birthday. These two special times with friends and family will be just enough for me.

      I am indeed blessed. And so are you! Thank you for sharing these great ideas and memories.

  7. Richard on April 2, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    I’ll guess Gloria is already 70.

    70 wasn’t bad. Nor is 71.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      You win the guessing contest, Richard. Thanks for paving the way for us.

  8. Kathleen Pooler on April 2, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Happy 70th Birthday to you and your dear friends, Shirley! What a wonderful reunion you will have and Lydia is sure to brighten your days together. When I turned 70, two years ago in July, my daughter Leigh Ann handed me a bag of cards and letters from my family and friends. She had requested that they share their best memories of our times together. It truly was a gift of words, a treasure. I’m sure whatever you decide to do will be memorable. Enjoy!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      Kathy, how appropriate that Leigh Ann gave you a gift of words and memories. I can just imagine how delighted you were with that gift and how much you savored it.

      You have offered gifts of words to hundreds of friends online over the course of the last decade. Thank you for including me in your warm and tender circle today.

  9. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on April 2, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Years ago I presented a paper in Pittsburgh at a NEMLA conference. I can’t remember the name of the hotel where we presented, but they had a bagle shop on the main floor, where Hardy and I had our breakfast. A homeless friend always came in with his cart full of stuff and enjoyed a daily bagel and coffee there. He spread himself out with his newspaper and his cart, and I could tell it was the highlight of his day. He was only allowed to be there for one hour. That’s my Pittsburgh memory!
    I will be 75 this year in May. I remember when a friend turned 70 and I thought that was old. When I turned 70 it didn’t seem old. My friend is well into her eighties now, and enjoying life to the utmost, and so am I!
    I enjoy following the royal family, and so admire Queen Elizabeth, who is so spry at 90 years of age! God bless her!

    • Shirley Showalter on April 2, 2018 at 7:11 pm

      Elfrieda, your memory of the homeless man reminds me of another apparently homeless man who goes to the local coffee shop on his bicycle. He too is treated well and respects the owner and the other customers for making room for him.

      Happy 75th to you a little in advance. I’m glad you are enjoying life to the utmost. You give me a marker to aim for, just a little beyond my age, the way your friend functions for you.

      I believe the Queen has turned 91? My mother and she are the same age, which means she was a very young mother in 1948. Hats off to her!

  10. June Alspaugh on April 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Happy birth year. Enjoy you time with your friends enjoying your city. Maybe seeing it through the eyes of your friends. May the sun shine on your faces, and may the wind be on your backs. And may God hold you all in His hands

    • Shirley Showalter on April 3, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      That sounds like an Irish blessing, June. How appropriate, since Gloria once gave me a framed blessing similar to yours and it hangs in our Virginia home right now. May God hold you in His Hands also.

  11. Carolyn Yoder on April 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Have a good time with your wonderful friends, Shirley. If you have only two more months in PGH, does that mean you’ll be back in the Valley by June? We’ve missed you!

    Pittsburgh has so many great places. We enjoyed river rides and going up the incline (does it still run?) Once at the top, there used to be some good restaurants with great views of the city.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 3, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks for the good wishes, Carolyn. Yes, we do plan to return by June 1. And I’m eager to reconnect with Powderhorse writers and our church.

      Stuart and I are planning to take the Gateway Clipper Fleet when the weather gets nice (after the rain stops!). And thanks for the reminder of the Incline and the restaurants above. We did that one long ago, but it’s an iconic experience for first-time or only-time visitors.

      See you soon!

  12. Mary Lou Weaver Houser on April 3, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Consider planting 70 trees with 70 friends/family!
    I am happy to share details . . .
    It was the greatest fun for all of us in 2014, my 70th birthday year.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 3, 2018 at 4:25 pm

      I LOVE this idea, Mary Lou. I just read about a friend who made 70 comforters. I would not have the skills and interest to do that. But trees, that’s something fun to do and collective and a wonderful legacy. Thank you!

  13. Tracy Rittmueller on April 7, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I love the joy in this post, Shirley — in all your posts. You really do inspire me to live every day with all the joy I can find.

    I live with someone who passed 70 six years ago. My advice — do or experience that thing with the person/people you will most regret not having done/seen/experienced it with, if the moment should come that now it’s too late.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 7, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      Thank you so much, Tracy, I am so grateful for the joy in my life. And I’m glad you find it inspiring.

      Your comment chokes me up. I am sure it’s impossible to do everything one hopes to do with loved ones. In the end, we will all groan to be reminded both of what we did when we were “young and gay” and what we didn’t do when we had the chance.

      Hugs to you and Ken.

      Carpe diem!!

  14. Greta Holt on April 7, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Oh my, there are so many of us Baby Boomers facing heaven!

    I turned 70 in March and decided that this was my decade to work at what I wanted to do AND to look for joy in each and every cranny.

    Have a great time with your friends.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 8, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Greta, cheers to you. Love the phrase “Baby Boomers facing heaven!” I think we’ll recognize heaven by forgetting completely about our age, It will be a foreign concept, don’t you think?

      I sense real determination in your birthday wish, and I send my hopes that both ends of that promise you made to yourself will come true.

  15. Carol Bodensteiner on April 8, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Like so many others responding to your post, I, too, will turn 70 this year. In fact, I’m already owning it since whenever anyone brings up age in conversation, I tell them I’m nearly 70. I look forward to it, perhaps because I’m well and enjoying life. I’ll be following your lead – as I do on so many things, Shirley – on how to celebrate. Or continue celebrating. Happy times to you and your friends as you tour Pittsburgh. I recommend a bottle of wine and good conversation.

    • Shirley Showalter on April 8, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      Yes, Carol, I think one difference between milestone birthdays and others is that we give ourselves a chance to get used to the idea by rolling the word “seventy” around on our tongue for at least six months before our actual birthdays. At first it sounds preposterous. Then it sounds younger-than-we-thought. I suppose soon it will feel just right. 🙂

      Thanks for the good wishes. The highlight of our time together is always in our talks.

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